When Formula 1 introduced its revolutionary V6 turbo hybrid power unit formula in 2014, the conversation around them was dominated not by how remarkably powerful they were or even the unreliability problems some manufacturers experienced.
Many fans spent the early years of the V6 turbo’s lifespan lamenting how the soundtrack of F1’s bold new age was quieter and softer than the last. But in recent seasons, with the power units themselves remaining fairly static as the cars that surround them morphed dramatically with regulations changes, it seems the agonising over engine sounds has died down.
However many still regard the output volume of an F1 car as a vital part of the spectacle, as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner argued recently. “Anybody that comes to a Formula 1 race is shocked by the speed and the energy of these cars and that a human being can be piloting one of these incredible missiles around a circuit,” he said. “The noise is a factor in that.
“The noise is part of the emotion. It’s part of the DNA of the sport. It’s funny how you get used to things because the V6s with the energy recovery systems they currently have are much quieter than the old V10s and V12s or even the V8s. So now when we roll out a show car and you hear a V10 or a V8 engine, all the mechanics put their tools down to go and watch the car.”
Did F1 lose something significant when it switched from V8s to V6 hybrid turbos? Or are the current engines loud enough – and the complaints about them were just a load of noise? Four of our writers have their say.
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Noise row was a matter of ‘optics’
It’s January 28th, 2014 and I’m standing by the exit of turn one at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit in Spain awaiting the first sight – and sound – of F1’s new generation of V6 hybrid turbos. How would they sound compared to the blaring 18,000rpm normally aspirated V8s of previous seasons?
Quite acceptably, I thought. “That car is loud,” I noted. Not as loud as what we were used to, no doubt, but still clearly a racing engine. I had missed out on F1’s last turbo era, but I’d heard cars from that era performing at historic events, and to me these seemed no quieter than the machines of that much-celebrated period.
So I was surprised by the furore which followed, which seemed to be largely whipped up by then-F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone. He was clearly no fan of the new formula to begin with – three years before they were introduced he described himself as being “anti, anti, anti, anti” the change in regulations. The reality of the new rules also ushered in a period of domination by Mercedes which undoubtedly wasn’t good for business either.
But if Ecclestone had motives for taking pot-shots at the new rules, a poll we ran on the site convinced me that others were sincerely underwhelmed with them. While the majority were satisfied with the sound of the engines, it wasn’t an emphatic result, and it was clear a significant chunk of our readers weren’t impressed.
I don’t believe engine noise was a significant concern for the majority, and the disproportionate amount of media attention it received was a consequence of Ecclestone’s Gerald Ratner-esque rantings. When the next generation of F1 engines arrive in three years’ time, I have no doubt Liberty Media’s publicity drive will be more disciplined.
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Sound is secondary
F1 cars became infamous for their loud, high-pitched, wall of noise that hit you as a V8 or V10-engined machine shot past you. The roaring sound of an F1 car was always a distinctive part of the sport, and fans were enthralled. But throughout the years, the noise of an F1 car has changed significantly, and as the sport looks towards greater electrification in 2026, it’s possible that sound will be impacted again – reflecting an ever-changing automotive world.
For me, this is no bad thing. We as humans need to think about the costly impact the sport has on the planet. But of course, talk of engine noise isn’t a new thing in the sport, and it’ll continue to rumble on for years.
Engines became significantly quieter in 2014 when the 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid engines came in. The cars had a very different and distinctive sound, even differing between teams in recent years. There were still some arguments even then, however, as some claimed the 2.4-litre V8s were not as loud as the V10s or especially V12s, but regardless F1 pushed on with the far quieter V6s engines.
The idea was to bring the cars more in line with what we see on the road, which tended towards smaller capacity turbo engines, adding depth and texture to the engine. Back in the day the old engines had a big impact and did add a bit of a ‘wow’ factor, but with the V6 you can hear the engine working without your ears bleeding.
All eyes are now on the 2026 engine, which F1 has admitted will be a push for efficiency. They want the focus for development and competition to be on the electrical side to tie in with the wider push for electrification in the road car domain. Some bad news for loud car fans, however – the fact there is great electrical power may mean there will be a bit less noise.
For me personally, the racing is why I watch F1 – not the sound of an engine. This season is struggling to bring us much excitement. If the 2026 engines are quieter but more competitive, I’ll be happy.
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F1’s popularity shows what really matters
If you can swallow the sobering realisation they are little more than billion-pound, supersonic weapons designed to inflict death and destruction on targets in as rapid a manner as possible, anyone who has experienced a fighter jet ripping the skies above them knows how that unfathomable energy and bone-shaking sound is something that can never be forgotten.
In the exact same way, anyone who was fortunate enough to witness a grand prix start prior to 2014 knows what an extremely raw, visceral experience hearing and feeling the vibrations shake your very core was – and how that energy is something modern F1 cars just cannot emulate.
Ultimately, as human beings, we are shallow. Even with a sport so dedicated to performance above all else, we care for aesthetics. We cried for vanity panels to beautify ugly stepped-noses in 2012. Fans and even drivers resisted the introduction of the halo purely for being an eyesore. Classic clips of V12 F1 engines screaming an automotive aria earn millions of clicks. It’s no surprise that when Polyphony Digital, makers of Gran Turismo, designed their vision of the ultimate formula racing car, they chose a V12 engine to power it.
But tastes change. Looks fade. The superficial becomes superfluous. And almost a decade from their introduction, the only conclusion to draw is the sound of F1’s V6 power units never mattered as much as its detractors claimed.
F1 has been as popular in recent years as ever. Fans flock trackside in record numbers never seen before. Over past seasons when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen took the title fight to the final race in 2021, when Daniel Ricciardo thrilled fans with daredevil passes or Sergio Perez scored his remarkable debut win in Bahrain, who honestly among us was left thinking ‘if only the cars were a bit louder’?
Thankfully, if damaged eardrums matter more to your enjoyment of motorsport than the racing action, there are plenty of video clips you can enjoy. Maybe even at max volume.
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Complaints elsewhere drown out the noise about engines
The fanbase was unsurprisingly at its most vocal about their dislike of the current era of turbo engines in the season of their introduction, which was the first time they had got to experience the updated audio sensations while those working on the testbeds had spent more than a year already listening to their new V6 creations.
There are still complaints, but far fewer now. First of all people got used to the sounds, and on reflection their initial complaints looked like overreaction, then other detractors stopped complaining because there was no point continuing to do so. No matter how much they did, and even if they stopped buying race tickets or television subscriptions to prove to F1 that their new engine formula was making fans disengage with the sport, it was fruitless as it was never going to influence F1 into making technical changes to remedy their concerns.
Those who continued to complain then got drowned out – particularly in ever-busier online spaces – by fans and paddock members taking issue with other topics. The COVID-19 pandemic and Netflix’s Drive to Survive series helped usher in a new generation of fans, who had little reason to be nostalgic about the engines of yesteryear. And like all fans once they become passionate, they then found their own grievances with modern F1 to complain about.
In fact, so much of F1’s track and paddock action is now consumed for fans and even media from their homes that the sound from the grandstands is arguably less relevant than what the trackside and onboard microphones pick up for the TV feeds. And if F1 felt that engine noise complaints was still an issue, it would have taken little effort to do some subtle audio editing for broadcasts.
As for F1’s support series, F2 has gone down the turbocharged path and nobody is complaining about noise there, while F3 uses naturally-aspirated engines and has an audio advantage with a 30-car grid meaning in races there’s barely a quiet moment anywhere on track.
Big (and loud) engines are too costly and inconvenient to be used in most junior series, and small series often share weekend bills with touring cars and sportscars with their own mix of modern production engines that – like F1 – reflect current automotive trends.
But for the fans who do want to see and hear something a bit more ‘exciting’, event organisers do take them into account by incorporating demos from cars showcasing new technologies or from old racing cars. In 2021 I was at a GT Open race meeting at the Circuit de Catalunya where an ex-Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar made an on-track cameo only for its brilliantly loud engine to set on fire. Thankfully the car was saved and I spotted it in a paddock again in 2022.
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Over to you
Are F1’s engines too quiet? Should the series take steps to ensure its 2026 power units are louder? Have your say in the comments.
2023 F1 season
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- F1 drivers speak up for Catalunya track amid rumours of Madrid bid for Spanish GP
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66 comments on “F1’s engine noise debate went quiet. Does it still need to turn up the volume?”
23rd May 2023, 12:52
TV should be doing better with the trackside sound – they’ve never sounded great on telly.
Monaco this weekend usually sounds better than the average race, must be the tall buildings.
Listen to a Formula E race (a trip to the dentist with dramatic bad-movie music over every replay) and it’ll help you appreciate them more.
23rd May 2023, 13:06
Actually on-track impression is really enjoyable. One can go watch a race and actually be able to exchange with friends in the race while having beautiful roaring engines instead of having to yell very simple sentences with gestures so the sound was loud before.
I think the issue some people may feel is mainly a TV-related problem.
Actually now the Porsche support race is much louder now but I don’t think it makes it particularly more impressive either. I was at Spa almost in front of the start line and a full field of Porsches about to start was just an unpleasant deafening sound experience, even with ear protections. Found it unnecessary loud, and still does.
In the meantime TV sound did look miserable in 2014. They did improve though and now I find it pretty nice. To me it looks like a bit of a past debate but I can understand people missing the sound. I prefer it this way though, not having to sit in a bubble with ear protections for 3 days when attending a race.
23rd May 2023, 20:39
@spoutnik there is also the aspect that some of those engines seem to have become more popular in retrospect, and were not necessarily that popular at the time. What seems to have happened over time is that the negative points have been glossed over or forgotten over time – clips of the cars on track don’t tell you what was happening behind the scenes, after all.
The V8 engines were initially criticised as being too gutless and underpowered compared to the earlier V10’s, not to mention that the resultant sound from the methods of exhaust blowing that were introduced over the years was fairly unpopular with a number of posters on this site.
Furthermore, the V8’s were also criticised for causing considerable problems with cost inflation – it was only because the FIA set limits on sale prices that forced the manufacturers to sell engines at a loss that they might have appeared cheaper later on (Renault, for example, confirming that the FIA’s mandated price meant they had to sell the engines at only about 50% of what it actually cost to build those engines).
There is also perhaps the point that, for all the song and dance made about V12’s, they’ve often not been particularly successful in Formula 1. It’s perhaps one of those cases where the perceptions, and perhaps the particularly romanticised association with Ferrari, do seem to have resulted in those engines getting a reputation that belies a performance record that’s not especially impressive in the sport.
23rd May 2023, 13:11
The current crop of cars are dreadful from a sound perspective, but at least they make some sound. Sound is an incredibly part of the experience of watching a vehicle as it informs the viewers of what the driver is doing. It is also emotional. Music is incredibly important to humans, and evoking emotion in people is the #1 reason why F1 is the most popular form of motorsport on the planet. If we deny this, then the sport will be in trouble. There’s good reason why a branch of neuroscience is focused on music’s effect on the brain. So the quieter you make the cars, the less evocative you make them… the less important they become to the audience.
Of course volume ≠ quality, but if a rival body decided to have a multi-make championships with N/A 3.5 engines in any configuration I am pretty sure F1 would be very concerned.
24th May 2023, 4:43
They wouldn’t be remotely concerned. The people who watch F1 and come to F1 races come (and pay exhorbitant amounts to come) because it’s Formula 1. Some random startup Formula Loud with a dinosaur engine and no big name drivers would be about as much threat to F1 as all the fans complaining about the noise were.
23rd May 2023, 13:12
The sound is fine as is, the vast majority of fans watch on TV, just fix the sound mix for that. It’s not really acceptable anymore to damage the hearing of fans or workers onsite for the sake of some “spectacle”. The spectacle should be the performance and racing of the cars, not the noise which is just a by product.
23rd May 2023, 13:16
This subject comes up from time to time and it is down to energy recovery from the exhaust. The very fact the exhaust is quite quite is testament to the efficiencies the designers have found.
Want noise, get rid of energy recovery and turbos.
23rd May 2023, 13:18
23rd May 2023, 14:08
Great point Andy. Noise is wasted energy!
23rd May 2023, 15:51
If you can’t stand the heat, …
… stop wasting energy.
23rd May 2023, 17:50
This is why I figured indycars sounds better. The same engine type but without the energy recovery bits and I assume the engines themselves are more efficient in F1 which is why the indycar engines sound better. A sort of raw note to them
23rd May 2023, 13:24
I mean, these engines will never make the sound of a V12 running at 15000 rpm. It’s just not going to be a thing, so it’s time to move on from that. The cars sound fine, and hearing crowd reactions is actually kind of okay too, adds something to the experience.
23rd May 2023, 13:25
V10s were the best in terms of note/sound and feeling of power. I’ve grown used to the new engine (excuse me, PU) noise but I do not prefer it.
Any commercial you see on TV with an open wheel race car still uses the high-pitched sound of older engines, I think that says a lot right there.
23rd May 2023, 13:38
Also, whenever F1 teams do a demo in a city, they always use a pre 2014 car with an up to date paint job……. that also says a lot
God I miss those V10’s. Yeah you couldnt speak to your mate sat right next to you in the grandstand, but that didnt matter, the cerebral experience was like no other. The race starts felt like the earth itself was shaking. The ear plugs we got with the start/finish straight tickets for the Nurburgring in 2005…… we only used them for the campsite at night due to the Germans love of Fireworks/Airhorns/David Hasslehoff :)
23rd May 2023, 14:00
Honestly, I think that they (mostly Red Bull) use a pre 2014 car not for the sound but because the pre 2014 engines were much less complicated to operate and therefore more suitable for demos. But I might be wrong.
Wat strikes me is that often when I hear a F1-related (radio) commercial, the sounds they use are still from an old engine. That really says a lot.
Mark Thomson (@melthom)
23rd May 2023, 14:42
In 2035, the manufacturing of gas and diesel engines will be banned within the EU. Then the cars will become really quite. The end of F1?
23rd May 2023, 17:51
A hasty mistake these bans.
23rd May 2023, 18:26
Keep up with the news, the ban is not going ahead thank god as ev not just sound rubbish but are rubbish.
23rd May 2023, 13:30
It’s noise. I don’t need noise.
The Edge (@the-edge)
23rd May 2023, 13:33
I’d rather F1s efforts were put into sorting out smaller, lighter cars, required for racing & tyres that drivers can push to limits
The sound of a proper racing car can wait till then
23rd May 2023, 13:35
Sound is part of the emotive experience.
One could also see this when Alonso was driving the Renault R25 V10 in 2020 on Abu Dhabi.
I’ve live near an F1 race track for the past 25 years and there is a significant difference between the emotions stirred from the volume of sound produced by cars. The whole paddock stopped what they were doing and came out to listen and watch the R25.
The volume of sound is not only heard with your ears but is experienced with your body. You actually feel the sound in your core.
The physical and psychological experience I get from race cars producing such noise has dissipated with F1 Hybrid engines.
There is simply no replacing the emotions old F1 cars and race cars evoke.
I was at the track in 2022 when F1 was there and it is true that the cars in real life make more volume than what is broadcasted on TV.
But the volume produced in general by F1 is lower than F2, F3 straightpiped classic race cars going from VW Beetles to Ferrari 250 LM V12s all the way to the WEC.
The contrast between current hybrid F1 engines and the era’s before, including the turbo era of the 80s is enormous.
F1 doesn’t produce the same type of emotions it used to.
The fact F1 has lost its soundtrack is something that is dearly missed.
24th May 2023, 12:43
Lewis Hamilton’s reaction to Alonso’s R25 run says it all. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpulR1SJGgM
24th May 2023, 15:31
@meneldur19 Yeah, just look at the way his eyes light up when he hears it. Kind of says it all.
24th May 2023, 18:50
Thanks for posting that. Amazing.
The Edge (@the-edge)
23rd May 2023, 13:37
Engines should definitely be louder….
Even if it’s just to drown out the BORING commentary provided by Sky’s BORING presenters
David Taylor (@gm8arv)
23rd May 2023, 13:50
I feel there are more important issues to resolve in F1 than the “adequate” engine noise.
23rd May 2023, 13:57
I think that yes, louder please and no, they’re fine as they are.
I remember when I attended my first race (in the mid-90s) which was in Montreal, and we were a little late for the start of the first practice session. As we were making our way to our seats we could hear the roar of the V10s and V12s and it was awesome. At one point we were about 30 to 40 yards from the track but we couldn’t see the cars because the vendor tents were in the way, and the sound each car made as it went by really ramped up the excitement and anticipation as we couldn’t help but wonder what were we about to see. After we were in our seats for a while, and the initial impact of the sound had worn off, it was just noise that didn’t add much to the experience.
So yes, loud is great especially early on in the event, but then please turn it down.
23rd May 2023, 14:10
Let me tell you this: I only watched this tiny little snippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEzXrDL4F3k
And the sound made me watch 20 other videos and follow WEC with much more interest, which I did. Triggers like this is what makes new fans.
23rd May 2023, 14:15
It was never a matter of loudness. It was a matter of pitch. And they still sound like a lawnmower.
23rd May 2023, 14:25
They sound dreadful now and for me, F1 has simply become a TV sport. I went to 40-odd races before the hybrid era, and have vivid memories that very closely involved the glorious sound of the engines and also gearboxes. Also, the cars used to have a certain smell back then, not sure where that went.
I attended qualifying at Silverstone last year. Behind me some people were having a conversation that I could clearly hear, and to the side of me was a bloke watching the cricket on his phone.
What I’ve always thought of as Formula One is completely dead.
23rd May 2023, 15:20
Removal of the benzene based compounds and other additives I suspect. Not good for your health BTW.
Wait a few years and the ethanol ratio should be high enough for it to smell like cheap vodka instead.
23rd May 2023, 21:17
@paulguitar as noted by SteveP, the reason you don’t have that smell is because they were often associated with benzene derived compounds that are now either banned, or heavily restricted, due to the fact they are also often highly toxic – their use in industry has resulted in a rather unfortunate amount of information on their neurotoxic effects – and carcinogenic.
The hallucinogenic effect of toluene derived compounds has also resulted in those chemicals being heavily restricted due to them being used for drug abuse – those fumes you are fondly remembering was probably having the effect of making you mildly intoxicated and causing a mild euphoric high not unlike that sought by those engaging in solvent abuse today (albeit on a lower level).
It is therefore not surprising that the FIA decided in the early 1990s that exposing pit workers to elevated levels of extremely hazardous chemicals over an extended period of time was a pretty bad idea, hence why they had them banned.
24th May 2023, 6:20
For us old folk, the aroma of racing came from “Castrol R”. I wonder if it can still be experienced at the Goodwood Revival ? Ahh, happy days !
Anon A. Mouse
23rd May 2023, 14:32
Loudness was, and I’m pretty sure I said it when this place was still F1 Fanatics, a mouth-breathing knuckle dragger’s argument. The volume of the sound wasn’t the issue, but the pitch/tone. The V12s, V10s, and to a slightly lesser extent V8s provided a pleasing aural experience. The V6s have offered a very muddy and subdued tone. Trackside audio from the previous engine configurations was a veritable symphony. The current ones? Eh, just a noise. There is certainly some variation among manufacturers – I think the “roughness” of the Honda is pleasing in its own right, but you’ll rarely catch me using the V6 era as a form of audio entertainment.
23rd May 2023, 15:23
My wife complains about the high-pitched whine coming from the Red Bull cars.
23rd May 2023, 14:33
The noise and the smell. That’s what racing is all about!
23rd May 2023, 14:42
I seem to recall that Bernie was so opposed to the V6 Turbo Hybrid that FOM either deliberately, or unintentionally, didn’t tune the audio equipment to properly present the noise of the engines– hence the massive disparity in reports of how the engines sounded trackside versus how they sounded on the global feed. Most people who’ve been to an event report that the engines are indeed, very loud, with a unique characteristic.
Over time, the engine sound on the F1 global feed has improved.
Even so, 6 cylinders at 10,500 RPM will never sound like 12 cylinders at 12,000 RPM, and for an engineer, all that noise is energy that could be making the car 0.01 seconds a lap faster.
23rd May 2023, 15:08
I went to Catalunya in 2014, and I witnessed some people literally laughing at how quiet and underwhelming the cars sounded.
I never, ever thought I would witness someone laughing at an F1 car. Before they went hybrid they used to illicit a reaction close to visceral fear.
Fer no.65 (@fer-no65)
23rd May 2023, 15:24
Noise is never secondary. There’s a reason why everyone was crazy about it in Abu Dhabi 2020 when Alonso was doing those demo runs in the Renault R25. There’s an interview with Hamilton as Alonso is on track and his face just lights up when he hears it. It’s exceptional. I only watched those V10s doing demos, never seen them racing properly. But I can only imagine what it was to see them live in those one-lap qualys we used to have.
This V6s sound horrible. It’s not the volume but the sound itself. For instance the V8s sounded much worse than the V10s which to me are as good as it can get.
Turbos in general these day quiet cars down a lot and there’s nothing “raw” about them. TCR uses turbos and they sound absolutely disgusting. Even road cars. You can’t beat a NA engine in sound…
23rd May 2023, 16:01
Indeed it isn’t secondary. I think anyone listens to music fundamentally knows that sound is absolutely an essential component to live a fulfilling life. I can’t stress enough how it is never ‘secondary’. It’s part of a collection of aspects to motorsport that makes it truly special. It’s part of the real life experience. If these ethereal things don’t matter then why not just have sim racing, and lets all save a ton of money. It’s almost 1:1 in terms of skill set. The racing is all but the same. The graphics are nearly there. So why are we drawn to reality? There’s nothing logically to say reality is better than sim unless you have to appeal to non-tangibles.
What F1 lost in sound it compensated in other areas also. It is still a loss to the sport.
23rd May 2023, 15:25
Are F1’s engines too quiet? – Definitely, not.
Should the series take steps to ensure its 2026 power units are louder? – Unnecessary. As pointed out by Claire, sound is secondary & I while I, like all others, had got used to V10s & especially V8s, I’ve never found the V6 turbo hybrid sounds too quite or unpleasant, not even in year one, so I couldn’t care less about this aspect for the next engine formula either.
23rd May 2023, 15:36
Volume was never really the problem, it’s the composition, the melody. A V10 is like Vivaldi’s Summer, unleashed and full of drama. The V6s, on the other hand, sound like generic pop music that fades into the background.
23rd May 2023, 16:02
I think everyone resigned about engine sound, and i believe F1 will end up full electric any time in the future witch means almost silent or using artificial sounds
23rd May 2023, 16:03
I’ve been to Silverstone as a 14 year old in 99 and again in 2011 and yeah the sound in real life is just incredible. Something you really had to experience.
I don’t know about these newer engines as I’ve never experienced them, however as a fan watching the coverage I rather conversely quite like that they’re quieter. I think for the time ever you started being able to actually hear when drivers locked up on the tv feed. Something I think was basically impossible before in real life or on a broadcast because the previous engines were so loud it drowned them out and the audio mix would have been severely brought down as a result.
So I do kinda like that now, I feel you get more interesting and detailed soundscape of what’s going on rather than just the scream of the engines alone.
23rd May 2023, 17:32
If only F1 would realise that the 2 main reasons for switching to the hybrids were both a load of rubbish.
The first reason was that it will attract road car manufacturers because they can improve their road cars through developments made in F1 cars, thanks to rules keeping F1 cars relevant to modern road cars. For the last 50 years of F1, there is barely any evidence of this transfer at all. (The main contribution is possibly design analysis software development, which would have happened irrespective of the rules.)
I had hoped that the 2014 F1 hybrids were be the first major exception to this trend. Specifically, their recovery of electrical energy from the exhaust was a massive pioneering step forward in engine thermal efficiency. But 10 years on, only 1 road car has ever applied this development. The AMG One hypercar, which has finally made it out of extended development hell to a relatively quiet reception.
Perhaps the road car manufacturers saw through this historical myth as, since the simultaneous loss of Cosworth and the adoption of hybrids, only 1 engine manufacture has joined, and has since left (sort of).
The second key reason for F1’s change to hybrids was that it reduced its contribution to climate change. Sure, it did so, and doing so is extremely important. But the % change made to F1’s total emissions is absolutely tiny. They could have saved so much more emissions simply by optimising the race calendar.
So it’s galling that we’ve lost such an evocative aspect of F1 for 2 reasons which are both basically driven by marketing BS and optics, and have no actual basis in reality.
24th May 2023, 7:52
Alesici, Cosworth had already left the sport for an extended period of time during the V8 era – their return was effectively enforced by Mosely insisting that the new teams which entered in 2010 had to use the Cosworth V8, solely for political purposes (i.e. to get a group of teams which were intended to be more aligned to the FIA’s objectives).
Red Andy (@red-andy)
23rd May 2023, 18:14
Let’s not forget that the complaints about the new engines being too quiet in the early days were deliberately stoked up by a particular team whose domination ended when the new engine formula was introduced. Now that their engine partner has got on top of the formula, they’re not so bothered any more…
Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
23rd May 2023, 18:44
First and foremost it has to be organic. I don’t agree with artificially creating a certain sound or even an amplified effect.
But I will add that standing trackside and hearing a v10 (Arrows) scream past me in 1997 at 11 years old is one of my fondest memories. I looked at my Dad in disbelief. I’m a petrolhead and I love the sound of a good engine. Those v10’s gave me goosebumps and I’ll always miss it, never the same trackside now.
Some people care, some people don’t and that’s fine. I hope for the day of a better sounding engine (not necessarily louder) but it has to be a genuine and not manufactured.
Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
23rd May 2023, 18:50
Loving the comments generally. Nice to see people with the same passion.
23rd May 2023, 19:19
Every time I see a clip with the V10s, it’s special. Some of this is 90s nostalgia, for sure. But it also just gives this awesome vibe. It’s unique* (yes, I know), it’s otherworldly, and it screams F1. Literally, in this case.
That about sums it up. But, and it’s a pretty big, the current F1 regulations are not eternal. The hybrid systems were brought in for marketing purposes. Yes, some of it is cool tech, but they make the cars super heavy and to this day there are still a bunch of races that were completed significantly faster in the last years of the V10 cars (it’s hard to get many good comparisons because of FCYs and track changes, obviously).
While I remain skeptical that ICEs are going to be phased out anywhere close to as quick or as widespread across the different market segments as some battery-afficianado’s claim, at some point the manufacturers might no longer be interested in using F1 for marketing purposes. And barring some enormous breakthrough, batteries aren’t able to supply the energy needed to run an F1 car at F1 speeds for a Grand Prix distance. Unless you want to carry tonnes of them.
So at some point, F1 may have to join pretty much every other motorsport series and drop the pretense that its engines are relevant to anything outside the sport. At that moment, there’s a chance to bring back some proper race engines. Engines that are light, have awesome sound, and as has already been demonstrated, run just fine on sustainable fuels.
23rd May 2023, 19:31
Noise is not secondary. The vibration in your chest standing trackside as a V12, V10 or even a V8 screamed past was something that you never got used to – those cars would evoke a much more emotive response almost every lap. Every time it was special. I’ll never forget hearing the Ferrari V12 in Adelaide as a kid – from the other side of the circuit! I’m a Ferrari fan from that exact moment. Years later I was sat near turn 1 at Monza with cars hitting 350 kph – and I realised that I eventually became used to WATCHING F1 at speed, I never got used to FEELING it. I feel sorry for those who didn’t have the chance to witness the amazing sound and vibration of those high revving engines. To say F1 is so much more popular now so it’s validation for a quieter, less visceral spectacle is a bit silly. The real question is what impact on the Drive to Survive era would engines that further enhance the drama have on the sport? I’d wager a positive one.
23rd May 2023, 23:35
Had a similar experience at Spa-Francorchamps. All the way up past Les Combes you could hear the cars exiting the pitlane, then there’d be a slight pause as they came through the Eau Rouge-Raidillon section where the steep elevation would redirect the sound, and then you could easily track them all the way up the Kemmel straight, into Les Combes and then finally see them. Quite impressive!
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
23rd May 2023, 20:32
I have great sympathy for those who did go to a Grand prix and had to suffer with the horrendously loud sounds which came from the previous generations of cars. There were people and animals who basically had to be at the race track but didn’t qualify for ear muffs or weren’t allowed to wear them.
The sound you hear on the TV or computer has been attenuated, filtered, equalised, had echo and reverb added, and lots of other stuff so it sounds great while conforming to broadcast audio specifications (i.e. the audio doesn’t go into the red bit on a VU meter), and then when it reaches your TV or computer or phone it has to be demodulated or decoded, after which the volume is so faint it has to be amplified, meaning if a person watching the race on TV or computer wants it louder they just need to increase the amount of amplification.
23rd May 2023, 21:21
As a passionate, long time fan and yearly race attendee in Montreal, I couldn’t disagree with the writers more. I don’t remember who won or what sponsor they had after my first race in 1992. What I do remember and what I look forward to as much as the sport itself and its players is the sheer intensity and visceral quality of those screaming banshees mounted in the rear. No where else are you going to find something like that outside of F1. Manufacturers dont put millions of dollars and research into custom tuning exhaust notes because nobody cares. Full Stop. If that were the case the cars would have the same shape and color and run the same motor. Go watch formula e if you want to watch paint dry. I can say personally that in 2014 I did not go away thinking I got my moneys worth. If you’re going to take away 50% of the reason fans are there, charge half price, Im here for the entertainment too. That of course is just my opinion.
Tommy C (@tommy-c)
23rd May 2023, 21:25
The biggest thing for me is the sport is so much more accessible with quieter engines. There’s no way I’d have taken my young kids to F1 before 2014. I’d have had to wait till they were at least 12 I reckon. Now you can make a pleasant family day out of going to a Grand Prix. It was strange in 2014 as you could no longer hear the cars from the other side of the circuit. It’s never really bothered me. It’s just another generation of different sounding F1 cars. Arguably the DFV should be the standard to which F1 engine sounds are held given its longevity in the sport.
24th May 2023, 0:50
I went to my first F1 race in Austin last year. While I never heard other engines ran in anger, they were running some classic F1 machines in the build up. I found the noise from all the machines involved loud but not painful.
I also attended my first top fuel NHRA race a couple weeks before than. If you want an experience, that’s where to go! The experience is beyond sound. It’s pressure! It made me wish I had went to the F1 race first.
We can debate the pros and cons of F1 vs 1000 ft drag races, but you cannot deny that those 10,000 HP monsters are something that has to be experience at least once!
24th May 2023, 0:56
It’s gone from music to muzak. Somehow the ‘art’ is out of it.
In muzak, all phrasing is muted -nothing wild!- and certain frequencies are omitted on purpose, so as to provide a ‘smooth, pleasant atmosphere’ and not disturb people – usually from enjoying their shopping ‘experience’. It’s background noise; music is too appreciative a word for it.
Muzak is like going to a museum where they’ve not only hung up mediocre compositions, but also turned down the lights, so as to not disturb you with too bright or sombre colors in the paintings.
Read @tommy-c ‘s comment above again – ‘pleasant family day’ indeed.
In music, you’re supposed to be able to hear all the frequencies that the musicians have put in. Lows and highs are percieved less easily by the human ear, hence the loudness button on stereos; to turn up those frequencies when the volume has been turned down – to still give you the full and intended frequency spectrum.
I either go to a museum to watch the art on display or stay at home. I either listen to music at a good volume or don’t put on music at all. I hate it when people complain about the volume because they can not talk. You either talk or listen to music – not both. It’s the musicians that are talking and you don’t go talking through the story they’re telling. I even tend to let the music finish before turning off the stereo – just common decency towards the musicians. I abhorr ‘background’ music.
It has nothing to do with eardeafening volume levels, it’s about being able to hear all frequencies, getting all the information and nuance the musicians convey – clear and undisturbed.
To me, an engine sound can be music, and it conveys what the driver is doing in the car.
In it’s turn, what the car is doing is like a beautiful dance.
I love that combination.
However, with lift and coast, much of the music is gone, and much of the dance has gone flat, mediocre.
Also, with the electrification, there’s a massively annoying whine interfering with the tone of the combustion engine.
Unfortunately, without the music, the dance loses even more of it’s appeal.
Funny enough, when it’s FE, you can concentrate on the electric whine and the tyre noise, which is OK, although the speeds are much less impressive.
It’s the mix, the hybrid concept, that I thoroughly dislike.
24th May 2023, 2:31
The cars sound fine today, but, for anyone that had been to a GP when V10’s and V12’s, its not in the same league. Back then they would give you goosebumps, I would argue the noise was a huge factor in attendance.
Today, is there any point going to a race? Its for sure a TV sport even more now.
24th May 2023, 7:49
Yes please. F1 currently doesnt look fast and it certainly doesn’t sound fast. No magic whatsoever, could be any racing category.
Abies de Wet
24th May 2023, 9:26
BRING BACK THE V10’s…. These cars sounds like my lawnmower…
24th May 2023, 14:44
Buy one of these; comes quite close.
24th May 2023, 13:46
Watch the San Marino 2005 replay on YouTube and tell me you don’t miss the sound.
24th May 2023, 14:09
It isn’t the volume… it’s the RPM. Volumr doesnt make the engines howl like deamons being chased , RPM does.
24th May 2023, 14:51
Noise is just wasted energy that does nothing for the performance of the car. More noise would just be more wasted energy. The ultimate PU would make no noise at all from the combustion of fuel if it could extract 100% of the energy in the fuel, something that will, of course, never happen.
24th May 2023, 15:43
Noise isn’t wasted energy, in the case of V10 and V12 F1 cars, it is created beauty!
Frank V (@suprem3cy)
24th May 2023, 20:26
For us OG F1 fans, its atmospheric V8s or V10s or nothing when it comes to sound. Yes, they have made strides with the turbo V6’s in terms of amplifying the sound(or lack thereof), but its never going to invoke the banshee roars of old.
At least the 2022+ cars look visually appealing and the racing is slightly improved. My biggest concern is the size of these cars. They are land yachts. Hoping the 2026 regs reduce the size so it makes it a little easier to overtake.